Considering Public Financial Resources – Sunday, 22.11.2009

Posted on 23 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

This Saturday, we reported: “According to a recent notification from the Council of Ministers, the Royal Government decided to suspend all promotions for government positions in 2010. If a promotion in any position is planned, it has to wait until 2011.” That was even more surprising than another report which the Mirror carried on 10.11.2009: “The Government Cuts Salaries of Advisers” – which, in a way, was only the correction of a violation of common sense (and economic justice): Why should only some public servants, employed full time, get a second salary for an additional function as adviser, a task to be adhered to during working hours which are already covered by another salary? But such double, or even multiple payments for some persons, seem to have gone on for years. In many other countries, the Auditor General – being an independent position without special loyalties – might have intervened many years ago.

When working to select and to present texts for the Mirror, related to some new millions of dollars “to help Cambodia,” it is surprising that quite often the text does not specify whether this refers to a credit to be paid back, or to a grant. Even some statements of preference, from where it is more agreeable to receive funds – whether there are conditions of transparency or of human rights adherence part of the agreement, or whether funds come without such expectations – do not distinguish between grants and loans. Though the latter have a minor condition: they have to be paid back.

The Mirror referred last month to the loans of about US$ 1 billion Cambodia had contracted with China in 2008 and 2009, continuing: “We are not aware that details about the timing and the terms of the re-payment obligations were published. Neither did we see any evaluation of the situation in terms of what is called a “sustainable external debt” – which is defined by some scholars of economics as “a situation where a country is expected to be able to meet its current and future debt obligations in full, without recourse to debt relief, rescheduling of debts, or the accumulation of arrears, and without unduly compromising growth.”

Some old debts did received special attention in recent reporting. On 11 November 2009, one paper had reported, supposedly based on information from high ranking Cambodian officials, that the Russian Government is considering to cancel the US$1.5 billion debt that Cambodia owes to Russia. But this had to be corrected on the basis what high ranking Russian officials said: when the president of the National Assembly and his delegation returned without success from Russia: “Russia Refuses to Cancel Debt” – it was clear that in spite of similar efforts in 2006 and 2008, the Russian government had not agreed to wipe out these old debts from the 1980ies. While we did not see details about the related negotiations, it is interesting to remember what had been reported formerly in 2007: that the Russian government is prepared to consider arrangements for the old debts under three conditions:

  1. Russia asks for the resumption of Moscow-Phnom Penh flights, for the promotion partly of tourism, and partly of investment.
  2. Russia asks Cambodia to strengthen military relations between the two countries by asking the ministries of defense of the two countries to have good relations again, because so many members of the Cambodian armed forces studied in Russia; therefore, the Cambodian Government should accept the request and organize those who studied military affairs in Russia again, and Russia, in turn, promises to accept Cambodian students to study in Russia.
  3. Russia sees the possibility to exploit natural gas in Cambodia, and asks the Cambodian National Assembly to facilitate relations, so that Russia can come to invest in oil drilling, because Russia has long years of experience in [oil and] gas drilling and hopes that Cambodia will allow Russian investors to come to invest in natural gas exploitation in Cambodia.

We do not remember that these points – especially as they relate also to untapped oil resources – have ever been mentioned in the more recent reports about maritime oil resource negotiations with a number of other countries. It should therefore be no surprise that the latest delegation to Russia to discuss the old debts did not bring the expected solution: that Russia would simply write off US$1.5 billion.

Another old, much much smaller debt, also shows up from time to time. We quote old headlines as a reminder:

  • 16.2.2008: US Demanded Debt [of approx. $154 million out of the debt of $339 million], Cambodia Said the Debt Was Owed by an Illegal Government [of the Khmer Republic]
  • 18.2.2008: US Discusses Debt Owed by Lon Nol Era; General Opinion Says US Should Better Cancel the Debt
  • 8.9.2009: America Hopes that an Agreement on the Cambodian Debt to the USA Will Be Achieved Soon to Cancel the Cambodian Debt
  • 23.9.2009: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mr. Hor Namhong Will Discuss Possible Solutions to the Debt from the Time of General Lon Nol’s Regime [the Khmer Republic] of More Than US$300 Million That Cambodia Owes America

To look forward to comprehensive information about all debt obligations, in light of what economic theories say about an appropriate “sustainable external debt” ratio is not unreasonable.

The recent dramatic decisions, to cut the salaries of the large number of advisers, and to freeze all promotions in the civilian and uniformed services, “aiming to save state resources in 2010,” is a signal of a new approach to handle public funds.

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Monday, 21.4.2008: Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong Sues Mr. Sam Rainsy

Posted on 21 April 2008. Filed under: Week 557 | Tags: , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 557

“Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Hor Namhong plans to sue Sam Rainsy Party president Mr. Sam Rainsy for linking him to the Khmer Rouge leadership.

“Mr. Sin Bunthoeun, the chief of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [and International Cooperation], said in the afternoon of 19 April 2008 that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Hor Namhong will prepare documents to sue Mr. Sam Rainsy for exaggerating the facts about him. Mr. Sin Bunthoeun said, ‘H.E. Hor Namhong is also a victim, and his two sisters who returned from France were detained in the Boeng Trabaek Prison and were later taken to be killed at Choeung Ek.’ Mr. Sin Bunthoeun said that Mr. Hor Namhong plans to hold a Buddhist ceremony to commemorate his two sisters soon.

“The chief of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not know yet how much compensation Mr. Hor Namhong will demand from Mr. Sam Rainsy; he only said that Mr. Hor Namhong will meet his lawyer, Mr. Kar Savuth, on Monday and discuss it with him.

“Mr. Hor Namhong has planned to sue Mr. Sam Rainsy after the opposition party president accused him on 17 April 2008 at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields Memorial in a Buddhist ceremony to commemorate victims of Khmer Rouge. Local newspapers quoted Mr. Sam Rainsy’s speech, which said that Mr. Hor Namhong was the chief of Boeng Trabaek Prison. He continued that to become the chief of the Boeng Trabaek Prison was not by chance, unless one was authorized by the Khmer Rouge. The chief of the prison was very powerful. Mr. Sam Rainsy also accused the Cambodian government of not wanting the trial of the [former] Khmer Rouge leaders to happen. He also used the occasion to push for the Khmer Rouge trials to be held soon.

“In the afternoon of 19 April 2008, Rasmei Kampuchea tried to contact Mr. Sam Rainsy by phone but could not reach him. His assistant just responded that Mr. Sam Rainsy is at present in the United States of America, and he will return to Cambodia on 29 April 2008.

“It is known that previously, Mr. Hor Namhong won two cases, against the former King Norodom Sihanouk, and against the The Cambodia Daily over accusations that he was the chief of Boeng Trabaek Prison of Khmer Rouge times.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4568, 20-21.4.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 21 April 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1620, 20-21.4.2008

  • World Bank Plans to Provide Aid for Good Governance in Cambodia
  • UN Official [Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, of the UN, Mr. Warren Sach] Interested in Speed of Seeking Justice for Genocide Victims


Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #572, 21.4.2008

  • Removal of the Thief Who Stole from the Nation [Telecom Cambodia general-director] Nhek Kosol Vithyea by Hun Sen Makes Employees in Telecom Cambodia Feel Released


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #137, 20-22.4.2008

  • [Funcinpec secretary-general] Nhek Bun Chhay Explained that Funcinpec Will Be Able to Retain the 26 Seats


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3439, 21.4.2008

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Asks the Cambodian People’s Party President [and Senate president] Chea Sim to Push for Calling an Extraordinary Session [of the National Assembly] to Adopt the Anti-Corruption Law
  • The Track of Human Rights Violations in Cambodia and in China Are Worrying


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4568, 20-21.4.2008

  • Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong Sues Mr. Sam Rainsy
  • [Former Khmer Republic President] Lon Nol’s Son [Lon Rith] Arrived in Phnom Penh [on 20 April 2008] to Enter Politics
  • Cambodia Lacks Direct Flights from China and Europe Which Have Potential for Tourism


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3290, 20-21.4.2008

  • Funcinpec Seeks Possibility to Join with Sam Rainsy Party

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How irrational emotions may be a block to see reality and its challenges

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